How to Fix a Leaking Roof from the Inside of Your House
There’s a huge thunderstorm happening outside, but you’re a picture of contentment – drink on hand, sitting on your favorite chair, waiting for the beep of your microwave that would signal that your popcorn is ready, before starting your Netflix marathon.
Even the constant hammering of rain on your roof and windows doesn’t really bother you.
After all, you know there’s no chance of it affecting you. You literally have a roof over your head anyway, don’t you?
On this page:
- Dangers of a Roof Leak
- It Can Cause Structural Issues
- It Can Weaken Drywall
- Mold Will Grow
- Potential Fires and Electric Shocks
- The Possibility of Getting into Accidents is Amplified
- Damage to Your Home
- Increased Utility Bills
- Pests Can Make a Home Out of Your Home
- How to Locate the Roof Leak
- Patching a Roof Leak from the Inside
- Repair a Hole in the Roof Using Plywood
- Calling a Contractor to Make Sure You Avoid Future Leaks
But wait, what are those dripping sounds you’re suddenly hearing?
A leaky roof is anyone’s worst nightmare. And when it suddenly appears when it’s raining hard outside? What a pain.
Leaks that occur suddenly during a rainy day can be considered as an emergency. It can immediately affect your home, since rainwater will immediately pass through any small hole or crack on your roof. And when this happens, it can quickly saturate various structures of your home, as well as give you a wet interior.
It’s that serious.
In situations like these where extreme temperatures and weather conditions don’t permit any work to be done on your roof, the only way to stop the leaks from getting worse is to do a temporary roof leak fix from the inside of your home.
Keep in mind that fixing a roof leak from the inside of your home is ALWAYS a quick fix – it can never be a permanent solution. While the water will not be able to pass through once you apply a patch or seal on the leaking spot, water will still enter through your roof and settle elsewhere until it finds a new spot to go out of.
It’s better to be prepared than caught off-guard in such a situation. And in order for you to do so, you need to know how an emergency roof leak repair is done. It’s quite a straightforward task and we’ll show you how it’s done.
Dangers of a Roof Leak
Many homeowners would say, “it’s just water anyway, what’s so scary about that?” when roof leaks are involved. They think that there’s no harm in having a leaky roof, aside from the hassle of replacing the buckets used to catch water every now and then.
What they don’t realize is that this is just the start of their problems, if they decide to leave it alone.
Water leaks by themselves are not dangerous; it’s the various effects and chain reactions they can trigger that you need to watch out for.
If like most homeowners, you’re not aware of what water leaks can do to you and your home, this section is for you.
It Can Cause Structural Issues
Water is the enemy of wood. We know that wood is sturdy, that’s why it’s commonly used to support various parts of your home, including the roof. But, expose it to water for a long time? It will eventually deteriorate.
Rotting is a known issue of wood when it comes into contact with water. And when this happens, its durability is questionable. There will come a point where it can no longer be relied on when it comes to holding up and supporting various structures of your home.
It is common to see wood being used as trusses or purlins to hold up a roof, and for that, they are also the most vulnerable when roof leaks are involved. They are likely to be in the direct path of water leaks, increasing the risk of rotting.
When this happens, only time will tell when your house will start falling apart.
It Can Weaken Drywall
It’s not just wood that gets vulnerable when exposed to water. When water reaches your drywall, it will eventually act like a giant sponge. Water will be stored inside your drywall, and this will result in it being pliable because it has become soft due to being waterlogged.
A flexible drywall is NOT something you would want to have, especially if you use it for ceilings and walls. When drywall becomes soft, it can no longer bear its own weight and that of the other structures directly connected to it. As a result, it will collapse and even bring massive damage to your home.
Mold Will Grow
Not-so-fun-fact: all homes have mold. It’s hardly a problem for most homes because it is mostly airborne, but once it becomes visible in any part of your home, you may want to get it checked out. When it rears its ugly head, it means that the mold in your home has gone out of control.
Molds come in different colors, such as red, purple, orange, black, etc. While some types of mold are more harmful than others, especially the black mold, all of them have spores that can aggravate existing respiratory conditions or even cause you to develop them.
And not only that, the presence of mold is ghastly. Aside from ruining your home’s interior design, getting those walls or ceilings with mold fixed usually means replacing them with new ones. And most of the time, it can get expensive.
Not a lot of people realize that their growth and rapid spread is largely caused by leaks. They thrive best in a moist environment, which leaks will readily provide.
And if you’ve ever had a mold infestation in your home, do you remember that the area where they were found in large amounts is near a leak?
Simply put, no leak, no mold infestation, no problem.
Potential Fires and Electric Shocks
Most homes have electrical wiring that pass under the roof, particularly somewhere along the attic or ceiling. If you have a leaky roof, there’s a huge possibility that water can come into contact with those wiring. And if you have exposed wires, it can lead to short circuits, which ups the risk of fire.
If you believe that you’re safe from this happening because you’re absolutely sure your wiring are in pristine condition, did you know that water can also ruin them? If you use copper wires, water coming from a leaky roof can cause it to corrode.
When the wiring become moist, the electric current produced in the affected circuit will quickly rise up. This will lead to the fuse getting blown, resulting in a short circuit. But if there is no fuse in the circuit, the wire itself will experience a temperature increase. Either way, both scenarios can trigger fires.
You can also get the shock of your life, literally, when a leaky roof is involved. If it fortunately doesn’t start a fire when water reaches your exposed wiring, the contact between them can result in electrically-charged water. After all, water is also a conductor.
And once you accidentally touch that water, or even any electrical switches connected to that affected circuit, electrocution is a possibility. If you’re not aware, electrical shocks can be fatal.
The Possibility of Getting into Accidents is Amplified
It’s been reported that a lot of fatal accidents happen at home, with a large percentage of them due to slips and falls. Most of the time, this is due to water left unnoticed on the floors, especially on the bathroom floors.
A leaky roof will also increase the likelihood of anyone getting into an accident. All that water dripping down can settle and form puddles. Because you can’t really see puddles of water on the floor, you may only discover it when it’s too late – when you’re already down on the floor with a sore bottom.
You can even consider yourself lucky if that’s all you get. Slips and falls can result to both minor and major injuries, such as:
- Spinal injuries
- Slipped discs
- Broken neck
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Ligament or tendon tears
- Bleeding due to wounds
- Broken bones
You should definitely take ‘slippery when wet’ signs seriously.
Damage to Your Home
You are already aware that a leaky roof will affect your drywall and wooden structures, but the damage it brings to your home doesn’t stop there. If you have leaks present, you’re also looking at the following potential effects:
- Damage to your installed insulation
- Paint discoloration
- Attic damage, including to your stuff stored there
- Bubbled-up plaster
- Foundation issues
- Problems with your ceiling lights and fans
- Sagging floors, drywalls or plywood
Unfortunately, the only way to fix these issues is to get them removed and replaced. Doing so will definitely cost you a lot.
Increased Utility Bills
A leaky roof can start a series of chain reactions that will also bring a lot of damage… to your budget.
Once your roof starts leaking, among the first parts of your home to be affected is the insulation. When it gets saturated with water, it becomes ineffective.
Poor home insulation means you have to increase your heating even more during cold days and turn on your air conditioner and set it to colder temperatures when the days are particularly hot, and with both for prolonged periods.
Increasing the settings of your HVAC units, as well as letting them run longer than usual means a higher than normal consumption. As a result, your household bills will increase.
Pests Can Make a Home Out of Your Home
When you leave holes on your roof alone, various pests and small animals can enter through it and settle somewhere in your home. These critters are not harmless guests; they can cause damage to various parts of and structures. In fact, they love to chew on wiring, until these wiring get exposed. And we know that exposed wiring are potential fire starters.
If the hole is large enough, snakes and other dangerous animals can also get inside your home through it. They may even settle there and make nests. In the long run, this can be dangerous.
From all these, you can see why leaks, in general, should never be underestimated. They should always be resolved as soon as possible, even if it means initially just doing a temporary roof leak fix from the inside until you can get a roofer to do a more permanent solution.
How to Locate the Roof Leak
Finding where exactly the leak on your roof is can be a daunting task, unless the hole where water enters is very visible. But most of the time, water will enter through your roof via a small hole or crack. Ask any roofer and they will tell you that it’s among the most challenging parts of any roofing job.
Roofers often use water hoses to spray water over the roof to help them find where exactly a leak is, while a helper stays in the attic or crawl space directly below the roof at the same time. When a roofer lets water flow over the roof, the helper will then try to find where the water will pass through from the roof.
If in emergency cases like these where a roofer will likely be unable to get to you anytime soon and you’re limited to searching for the leak inside your home while it is raining heavily outside, all that rainwater will be a big help to you.
Here are the steps you need to know and follow to find out where the leak on your roof is coming from:
- Go up to your attic or crawlspace, bringing along with you some sponges, a flashlight, and something you can use for marking.
- Carefully remove the insulation installed on the drywall ceiling.
- Using the sponge, remove all standing water present.
- Mark areas that got wet or where you suspect water is coming in from your roof, such as those sections that have visible discolorations.
- You can also place a piece of plywood below the wet area, making sure to attach it on the trusses and never on the drywall. Place a bucket or container on top of that plywood to catch the leaks.
- Trace the path of the water, making sure to check areas some distance away from where the water seems to drop.
Unless you have a flat roof, its slope will allow water to travel far away from where it enters your roof. This means you may have a small hole near the very top of roof where water enters, and the water will only drop down to your ceiling when it reaches the lower sections.
Typical paths of water leaks include following the path of the roof decking’s underside, as well as that of the beams themselves.
- Point your flashlight to the area where you suspect the leak is coming from. The light coming from your flashlight will help you see where the small hole or crack on your roof is located.
- If you discover where the water’s entry point is on your roof, mark it. This will make adding a patch or seal later easier for you.
If time permits, you can also move your stuff that is in the direct vicinity of the leaking spot before finding out where the leak is coming from to avoid getting them ruined by water.
Finding out where the holes or cracks on your roof are located is a very crucial step if you need to do an emergency roof leak repair by yourself.
Patching a Roof Leak from the Inside
Once you find out where the leak is coming from, you need to add a patch to seal up the hole temporarily. Again, this is just an emergency roof leak repair that you can do to seal off your roof and prevent water from coming in for some time, until a professional is available to do a more permanent solution to it.
Here are the things needed for this task:
- Roofing tar
- Shingle, preferably asphalt
- Putty knife
With those materials on hand, follow these steps to make a patch for your roof from the inside:
- Dry up the area where the patch will be placed.
- Measure the hole or crack and cut a piece of shingle that is bigger in size. This will be the patch for your roof.
- Apply tar over the crack or hole where the water is leaking from and use your putty knife to spread it out.
Make sure not to place too much tar, because it will be very difficult to remove once it dries up and hardens. On the other hand, too little tar may not be enough to hold the patch in place.
- Get the cut out piece of shingle and place it over the tar covering the hole on your roof. Make sure to apply pressure and press over it for a minute or more.
- Add some more roofing tar over the edges of the patch to keep it in place.
If you discover more than one hole on your roof where the water is leaking from, repeat these steps and apply patches to every single one of them.
It is also a good idea to check the overall condition of the surroundings where the leaks are found. Look out for discolorations, bulges, wood rot, mold, mildew, etc. This will also help you save money, as you can ask your roofer to check these out together with your roof, instead of having them come back another time and be charged anew.
Repair a Hole in the Roof Using Plywood
If you don’t have any extra shingle lying around at home, you can also make use of plywood as a patch. Just follow the same steps when it comes to using a shingle to patch up a leaky roof.
The downside of using plywood for it is that it is still susceptible to rot, unlike an asphalt shingle. Even if tar blocks the water from reaching the plywood, there is still a chance that the water can get to the plywood if you were unable to spread out the tar completely.
Even a small hole the size of a pinprick that you were unable to cover up with tar is enough for water to flow to the plywood patch. And when this happens, the water will settle there and your plywood will rot soon enough.
Just hope that when this happens, the damage is limited to the plywood patch.
Calling a Contractor to Make Sure You Avoid Future Leaks
Even if you can give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done on your emergency roof leak repair, it doesn’t mean you should skip getting the services of a roofing contractor. No matter how perfect the patch you made is, it is still just a spot repair that will not be able to hold up for long.
Even if you managed to stop the leaks from appearing in those particular spots, the water will just be redirected somewhere else. Later on, it will appear on a new spot and you’ll have to seal it up again. And this cycle will repeat unless you get your roof itself fixed by a professional.
With the presence of a leaky roof in your home, this might indicate two things:
- There is already something wrong with your roof, or
- Leaks are a sign that your roof will start encountering various issues.
They say that prevention is always better than cure, and this also holds true when it comes to your roof. By getting in touch with a roofer and have them work on your roof leaks, as well as other roof issues present that you may not be aware of, it will save you the headache of dealing with new leaks in the future.
But if your dilemma is where to find a reliable roofer that can do the job for you, we can help you out with that, for free!
By filling out our form, up to four reliable contractors within or near your area can get in touch with you and offer their services, including quotes of how much they charge for the project.
It’s up to you whether to choose any one of them, or even none at all. You don’t have any obligation to choose one contractor among those who contacted you. You have the freedom to decline any of their offers.
With this free service that doesn’t really require you to say yes to any contractor, why not try it out to have your leaky roof addressed soon? If you prolong it, the issue will get worse and you’ll have to spend a lot, lot more to remedy it.